Coral Gables Miami: two steps along the Miracle Mile and a dip in the Venetian Pool

Who I am
Joel Fulleda
@joelfulleda
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

There is no doubt: the neighborhood of Coral Gables it's an absolute must see when visiting the Miami area. As well as others city ​​neighborhoods, also Coral Gables it offers a number of wide-ranging attractions: from museums to shops, from natural beauties to historical monuments, from golf to yoga, without forgetting the beaches of Miami that are so close. But the charm of this prestigious residential neighborhood it is not only in the places of tourist interest that can be reached, but in the atmosphere that you can breathe there simply by walking or traveling its streets by car.



Index

  • How to get around Coral Gables and how to get there
  • What to see in Coral Gables
    • The entrance doors
    • Coral Way Historic Homes and Monuments
    • Venetian pool
    • Biltmore Hotel
    • معجزه مسیر,en
    • Coral Gables museums, botanical gardens and beaches
  • Where to shop
  • Events in the neighborhood
  • Where to eat
  • Where sleeping in Coral Gables

How to get around Coral Gables and how to get there

To get to Coral Gables theairport closer is undoubtedly that of Miami (2100 NW 42nd Ave.) which is about 20 minutes away. As we said, the best way to visit the neighborhood is to do it on your own With the car, which is part of the charm of Coral Gables. Moreover, the best things to see are quite decentralized and distant from each other.

The transport system Metrorail of Miami allows you to reach Miracle Mile and the surrounding areas of downtown Coral Gables in an "indirect" way, passing through Douglas Road station to get to the bus station. trolley of Coral Gables, a very efficient and appreciated hybrid-electric transport system with which you can move around downtown and with free rides. Trolley travel from Douglas Road Station to the Miracle Mile takes approximately 15 minutes. This vehicle, equipped with air conditioning, has large windows ideal for not losing the images of what flows around.



To get around the city you can also request the freebee, a kind of large electric golf cart that accommodates 5 people plus the driver, open on the sides. The Freebee can be used for free leaving only a tip to the driver and are useful for short trips. They are sponsored vehicles (which allows them to be free of charge), operating from Monday to Sunday from 11 to 23. For more general advice, I invite you to read our in-depth study on how to get around Miami.

What to see in Coral Gables

Banyan Line

We are southwest of downtown Miami, in Dade County: it is thanks to the project of the brilliant building contractor George Merrick that we can visit Coral Gables, a delightful Mediterranean-style town full of architectural points of interest and quiet green areas where you can rest your eyes. We are ready to find out in detail why it is called “The City Beautiful”: we will do it mainly along the Coral Way, the main artery of this neighborhood, the "neighbor" of Little Havana: this is a beautiful street characterized by the presence of an infinite row of banyans, which make the journey by car relaxing and help to shade the typical cafes and restaurants that they offer local specialties.

The entrance doors

If you want to visit Coral Gables from the north (Little Havana) you should go there SW 8th St (Calle Ocho, so to speak), which is none other than the northern border of the neighborhood: along this street you have various possibilities to reach Coral Way and all other downtown attractions. According to Merrick's project, the Coral Gables area had to radically distinguish itself from the rest of Miami for the exclusivity and the Mediterranean-inspired architectural style of his homes: for this reason he thought it best to build numerous monumental doors in Andalusian and Spanish style, so that the visitor immediately had the impression of entering a place completely different from the rest of the city.



  • at the intersection of 8th St and Douglas Road, just on the corner is the Douglas Entrance, perhaps the most ambitious among those designed by Merrick (certainly the most expensive). Currently, it allows access to the neighborhood via a small secondary road on the threshold of which there is a small square with a fountain.
  • at Granada Blvd, your attention will be captured by Granada Entrance, a little less majestic than the previous one but curious for its vaguely Andalusian rustic aspect, in stark contrast to the shops on the main road across the street.
  • the northwest entrance to Coral Gables is located at the height of Country Club Prado (hence its name), right in front of the green triangle J. Fritz and Frances Gordon Park. Of all this is the most elegant entrance: built in Spanish style, this entrance does not have a real door, but rather looks like an avenue embellished with flowering pergolas, fountains, decorative statues and stairways.

Coral Way Historic Homes and Monuments

Coral Gables Merrick House

Much of the value of a visit to Coral Gables lies in driving the long car Coral Way and its labyrinthine crossbars: it is a sight to pass and walk along the so-called Banyan Line, with its suggestive sequence of banyan trees with robust aerial roots. Along Coral Way there is a large concentration of splendid garden villas and Mediterranean style homes, each more beautiful than the other. A couple of these, however, are of particular historical importance:


  • Coral Gables Merrick House: if you want to see it, go to Coral Way number 907. What looks like just one of Coral Gables' many houses (and not even the prettiest) is actually the most important, as well as the original core of the entire neighborhood. It is the home of Solomon Greasley and Althea Fink Merrick, parents of that George Merrick who, from 1925 onwards, would have designed the entire Coral Gables. The name itself comes from two architectural elements of this house: the construction material (coral, "Coral") and the tympanum of the upper part of the facade ("Gables" means "gable"). The house can be visited on guided tours on the days and at the times indicated here.
  • Poinciana Place (Honeymoon Cottage): not far from the house of the Merrick family, and more precisely at number 937, there is another very beautiful and decidedly important house, built in a rustic-Mediterranean style and embellished with a well-kept tropical garden. It was here that George Merrick and his wife Eunice Peacock came to live after their wedding in 1916: they affectionately called it "honeymoon cottage". Like the Merrick house, Poinciana Place was the stylistic-architectural matrix of many buildings in the area.
Curiosity Few guides report it, but in 2000 Alhambra Circle there is a curious monument that deserves a short detour from Coral Way to the north (just 2 minutes by car): it is a brightly colored Moorish-style water tower, inspired by the Alhambra of Granada. His name is indeed Alhambra Water Tower
Alhambra Water Tower

The show of the Banyan Line is a real thrill that continues even in the surrounding streets, for example along Almeria Avenue and part of the Old Cutler Road up to Cocoplum Circle. Do not miss the stretch of the Old Cutler where the fronds protrude from both sides, they "embrace" creating a remarkable tunnel effect! In the shade of these extraordinary trees Coral Gables promotes a healthy lifestyle, as evidenced by the numerous yoga and wellness centers that are springing up.


A little further south of Coral Way, more precisely at the intersection of Seville Avenue, Granada Boulevard and De Soto Boulevard, there is another beautiful monument that is worth reaching for. In the small circular De Soto Plaza with palm trees and trees all around, the De Soto Fountain, a neo-baroque fountain with floral decorations, a tall obelisk that rises from the base and jets of water that gush from the sculptures on the four sides. In the obelisk there are lanterns that illuminate the area in the evening hours. The name of the fountain comes from Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer and conqueror.

Venetian pool

In the immediate vicinity of the fountain is one of the best known attractions in this town: the Venetian pool (2701 De Soto Blvd.), a public outdoor swimming pool started on the initiative of Merrick and his collaborators in 1924, obtained from a coral rock quarry and inspired by the Venice lagoon. Here you can dive into the spring waters and let yourself be refreshed by the waterfall. As if the splendid emerald color of the water wasn't enough, there are Spanish-style buildings with loggias and arcades to surround them, a nice bridge, street lamps, palm trees, bougainvillea and two large observation towers from which to admire the surrounding panorama.

The opening and closing times vary according to the season and must always be checked on the official website, but in any case they oscillate between 10 and 11 in the morning and 16.30 and 18.30 in the afternoon. At the same link you can see which days of the year the pool is closed. Keep in mind that there is a limit number of presences beyond which access is not permitted, and that children under 3 years of age and children under 97 centimeters tall are not allowed in the pool. The entrance fee for adults is $ 15 and $ 10 for children, while in the peak season (June-July-August) it is $ 20 for adults and $ 15 for children.

Biltmore Hotel

From De Soto Plaza take De Soto Boulevard: after a short time the gaze stops on the imposing silhouette of the Biltmore Hotel, designed and built by George Merrick and John McEntee Bowman. What does the central tower remind us of? Of course, the Giralda, the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral! The Andalusian quote is noteworthy (certainly better than the Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami) but it is not the only reason for interest: outside, at the end of the beautiful tree-lined avenue and right in front of the entrance staircase, a rich fountain that anticipates the subtleties of the interior furnishings.

It is not necessary to be a guest of the luxury hotel (now also a national historic landmark) to visit or have afternoon tea in the opulent hall in Moorish style on the first floor, with arches, frescoes, marble columns, furnishings and ceilings from the Thousand and One Nights. You can also take a look at the incredible Swimmingpool surrounded by palm trees and classical statues, which for a short time seems to have been the largest in the world. However much these records leave the time they find, we do not find it hard to believe it, and after all, it is no wonder that this hotel has been frequented by characters with high-sounding names, and even by gangsters like Al Capone.

Golf courses at Coral GablesIl Biltmore Golf Course (1210 Anastasia Ave.) is an 18-hole green with the added bonus of a spectacular view of the hotel of the same name. Its meadows are frequented, now as in the past, by politicians and celebrities from the show and cinema. To name a few: President Clinton and actors Will Smith and Andy Garcia. Another popular green is the Granada Golf Course (2001 Granada Blvd.) located just outside the downtown. This 9-hole course features a restaurant, themed shop and golf cart rental. Lessons are available to learn this sport or perfect your technique.

Near the hotel, in a well-kept green area at 2711 of the Indian Mound Trail, the portal of the Church of the Little Flower attracts our attention with its refined decorations. The interiors and stained glass windows are also worth seeing, especially the altar wall and ceiling. A church with an even more conspicuous facade is located just in front of the Biltmore Hotel: it is there Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, noteworthy because it is the first congregationalist church in the city of Miami. It was built in 1924 with funding from Merrick's father.

معجزه مسیر,en

We now travel the Coral Way from Merrick's house to the east, leaving the immense behind us Granada Golf Course. In a short time we will reach the معجزه مسیر,en, the 800m section from Le Jeune Road and Douglas Road. This short piece of road, along with the surrounding streets (Aragon Ave, Salzedo St.) is the commercial heart of Coral Gables, completely different from the Coral Way we've seen so far.

We walk along the sidewalks among shops of various kinds and for all budgets, refined restaurants but also trendy and easy-going clubs, cafes with outdoor tables, art galleries, palm trees, trees and flowers; it's definitely a good start. It is always advisable to pay a visit to the Coral Gables Visitor Center, located at the Coral Gables Museum (285 Aragon Ave.), open Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 17pm and Saturday from 10am to 15pm.

 

  • at 280 Miracle Mile is a historic and eye-catching art deco theater, the Actors’ Playhouse, still active with a rich program of concerts and shows.
  • at the western end of the معجزه مسیر,en is the City Hall (405 Biltmore Way), the historic town hall (dated 1928) on three floors in a Mediterranean revival style with the clock tower rising from the center and the circular Corinthian colonnade at the front. The night lighting creates a pleasant suggestion.
  • as the name reveals, the Coral Gables Museum (285 Aragon Ave., just 2 avenues north of the Miracle Mile) was created to introduce the history of this town as well as the natural environment of South Florida. In the Creating the Dream exhibition area, the life of George Merrick (1849-1942) and his dream come true to found Coral Gables are told. The museum lobby is dedicated to photographic exhibitions while various kinds of exhibitions alternate in the rooms. It is possible to take guided or audio guided tours. The building, whose style may be reminiscent of the Moorish one, was once the old headquarters of the police and the fire station. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 12 to 18, Saturdays from 11 to 17 and Sunday from 12 to 17. The entrance fee is $ 10 for adults, $ 8 for students and seniors and $ 3 for children. 6 to 12 years.

Coral Gables museums, botanical gardens and beaches

At the Miami University art lovers can explore the Lowe art museum (1301 Stanford Dr.) where you can find objects, paintings and sculptures ranging from collections from various corners of the world passing from Native Americans to Greek and Roman civilizations, from the Renaissance to the Baroque. You can take guided tours lasting 1 or 2 hours or self-guided. We point out an ideal patio for a picnic. The entrance fee is $ 12.50 for adults aged 12 and over and $ 8 for seniors and children. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 to 16 and on Sunday from 12 to 16 while it is closed on Mondays and during university holidays.

Although nature has been very generous throughout the Coral Gables area, in the southern part of the district it is even more the protagonist since Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd.) Where plants from all over the world grow. In this immense space that we want to explore (at least in part) we notice many species of palms and cycads (particular trees with evergreen leaves that grow directly from the trunk) and we also meet iguanas, raccoons, lake turtles and many brightly colored lizards.

Along the paths surrounded by nature you can relax on the benches. An added value is given by the presence of the butterfly and the rainforest but, pay attention to the heat, because the area is very large and humid. For this reason, a tram is available every hour that makes the tour. Since 2005, works of contemporary art have been exhibited at the sculpture garden, for example by the artists Roy Lichtenstein, Fernando Botero and Yoko Ono. Visits take place every day from 9.30 to 16.30. Admission is $ 25 for adults, $ 18 for ages 65 and up and $ 12 for ages 6-17 (including the tram).

Do you like botanical gardens? The last luxuriant oasis that we point out is near the Fairchild: it is called Montgomery Botanic Center (11901 Old Cutler Rd.). This park is spread over an area of ​​49 hectares, where wild plants from various parts of the world grow, beautiful palm trees, tropical plants and walkways in nature. This non-profit location has been in operation since 1928.

At a short distance we do not miss the Matheson Hammock Park & Beach (9610 Old Cutler Rd), a 2.5 square kilometer park open from sunrise to sunset, a paradise with warm waters and beautiful views of downtown Miami. Fringed by palm trees and white sand, here is a beautiful circular beach that welcomes the warm waters of Biscayne Bay; needless to say, it is a truly remarkable sight.

On the other side of the lagoon, part of the beach overlooks the marina. In a coral building there is a bar and a restaurant but those who love to have a picnic will find a special pavilion. The entrance fee for cars is $ 5 on weekends and $ 7 on holidays. To find out more, read our article on Miami beaches.

Coral Gables Villages

The Hispanic root of Coral Gables' architecture is there for all to see, but if you are curious about the oddities, go in search of the Coral Gables Villages, a set of ethnic urban agglomerations scattered around the city. But I recommend: they are not among the best things in the neighborhood, so it's only worth going to them if you have some time left. Here are the main ones:

  • Dutch South African Village (6612, 6700, 6704, 6710 Le Jeune Rd. E 6705 San Vicente St.) with XNUMXth century Dutch colonial country houses
  • Chinese Village (bordered by Sansovino Ave., Castania Ave., Maggiore St., Riviera Dr. and Menendez Ave.) with its oriental architecture
  • Spagnan Village (bordered by San Antonio Ave., Segovia St., and Monserrate St) with rustic and Renaissance houses
  • Florida Pioneer / Colonial Village (4320, 4409, 4515, 4520, 4620 Santa Maria St.) with South American and New England-inspired homes
  • French Normandy Village (bordered by Le JeuneRd., Vizcaya Court., Vizcaya Ave. and Alesio Ave.) with the appearance of a XNUMXth century French village
  • French Country - City Village (Hardee Rd.) With French houses from the XNUMXth century

Where to shop

Lo Shopping in Coral Gables it is mostly long معجزه مسیر,en or at The Village at Merrick Park (358 San Lorenzo Ave.), an open-air mall created in 2002 with shops, restaurants, cinemas, a fitness center, and a spa. The pleasant structure of the complex is refined, embellished with a fountain and the presence of palm trees, but the shops are not very cheap: there are luxury brands such as Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, La Coste, Tiffany and Gucci. Whatever your shopping preferences are, it is worth visiting and appreciating its structure.

Events in the neighborhood

Several Events animate Coral Gables. In January the free event takes place Festival of the Arts (2305 Ponce De Leon Blvd.). The open-air context hosts around 150 artists and four exhibition sections: visual arts, culinary arts, auditory arts and musical arts. The level of the works and performances is highly qualitative. We meet works in oil, water and others in clay and bronze. And like all events in the States, there is no shortage of food and stalls.

At the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd.) Takes place, also in January, il Chocolate Festival and the name already speaks volumes. Chocolate tastings by the master chocolatiers, demonstrations by chefs on the preparation of chocolate and tours to learn about the life cycle and use of the cocoa plant. Those interested can buy a plant. The event is included in the cost of the entrance ticket to the botanical garden.

In March it's party time on the weekend of Carnaval on the Mile, a celebration along the Miracle Mile (the most famous segment of the Coral Way main street) among vendors offering paintings and works of art, restaurants with outdoor tables, food trucks, food stands and lots of music from live local bands (also jazz); with these assumptions the atmosphere is the right one to have fun. For three days in March theOrchid Festival at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden it showcases more than 10.000 orchids that create a triumph of color, grace and whose seeds you can even buy. Access to the festival is included in the cost of the ticket for the botanical garden.

For a weekend of July, also at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, il Mango & Tropical Fruit Festival comes to life with fruit displays and sales, cooking demonstrations (including classes), live music, children's activities, art and craft products. Also in this case, access to the event is included in the admission price to the garden.

In the Giralda Plaza (part of Giralda Avenue), close to the Coral Gable Museum, every first Friday of the month from December to April the event takes place Giralda Under the Stars and on this occasion many restaurateurs put tables outside their premises to delight guests, accompanied by good live music.

Where to eat

It is difficult to choose among so many restaurants and then we decide to range between different types.

  • Scents of Peru (1930 Ponce De Leon Blvd.) offers Peruvian cuisine combining delicious flavors of original recipes. The atmosphere is pleasant, so much so that we feel at home. The owner is also the founder of Fundacion Aromas, a non-profit institution established to bring smiles and basic necessities to children living in poverty in Latin American countries.
  • When you crave a great burger you can't go wrong with it BurgerFI (136 Miracle Mile). In a relaxed and informal atmosphere the restaurant specializes in burgers with 100% excellent Angus beef, and it feels. A curiosity: on the bread there is the name of the place.
  • In a welcoming indoor atmosphere or on the outdoor patio, al Seasonings 52 (321 Miracle Mile) we find an excellent selection of wines. Sunday brunch offers fresh food, delicious flatbreads, tempting fish dishes and tasty salads.
  • At the historic Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave.) we point out the scenographic Cascade. There are also tables under the colonnaded porch that overlooks the swimming pool we told you about. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Among the various dishes on the menu we find shrimp cocktails, grilled chicken wings, cesar salad, strawberry cheesecake and key lime pie, the typical dessert of Florida.

Where sleeping in Coral Gables

Biltmore Hotel

When you decide to stay overnight it is very likely that an icon of Coral Gables will spring to mind, the luxurious Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave.) with an intense salmon pink color, with the characteristic Mediterranean architecture, Italian, Spanish and Moorish influences scattered throughout the large estate immersed in a tropical setting. The rooms and suites are equipped with wi-fi, mini bar, safe and balcony. (The prices are quite high but on Booking, at the link indicated above you can find offers).

The furnishings are also affected by Mediterranean and Moorish influences. The property features a swimming pool, restaurants, bars, spa, shops, golf course, fitness center and free valet parking. The restaurant rooms are incredibly refined. A cooking academy organizes a series of cooking classes for adults and children. Transportation services to Miami Airport are available with various types of vehicles: SUVs, limousines, vans, buses and taxis.

In the heart of Coral Gables is theHotel Colonnade (180 Aragon Ave.) with European elegance which is also reflected in the above average rates for this location, more or less in line with those of the Biltmore hotel. The famous lobby has grand staircases, a fountain and a precious Murano glass chandelier. The rooms and suites are furnished in a modern style. The property features a restaurant, cafeteria, meeting room, gift shop, outdoor swimming pool and games room. The hotel is an ideal location for weddings.

Always in Mediterranean style and with medium-high costs Hyatt Regency Coral Gables (50 Alhambra Plaza) was built to replicate the Alhambra palace in Granada in Spain. The lobby features antique chandeliers, arched corridors and floral displays. The rooms and suites are elegant and refined with the use of colors such as light gray, shades of brown and white. The hotel features free wi-fi, fitness center, business service, restaurant, concierge, laundry, golf course and swimming pool. The property is pet friendly.

Hyatt Regency

Centrally located is theHotel St. Michel (162 Alcazar Ave.) a small, affordable European-style boutique hotel when local parameters are taken into account. The rooms and suites combine vintage and contemporary style. Each room is different from the other. The property features a restaurant, concierge and free wi-fi. Interesting details are the external wall with vines and the brass elevator cabin dating back to 1926.

All accommodations available in Coral Gables

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